Bloody Good Cheer: Our Top 5 Favorite Christmas Slashers

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SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT (1984)
As a young boy, Billy was given the unfortunate gift of witnessing his parents murdered by a mean old Santa Clause. Needless to say, christmas will never be the same for him. As a teen, the disturbed Billy dresses up as Santa and goes on a holiday killing spree before returning to the orphanage he grew up in. The inventive deaths and quirky towns people make this a must see during the Christmas season.

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SILENT NIGHT
A fun remake that creates some great new moments, while still paying the original its respect. Silent Night featured wonderful camera work and solid acting. Malcolm McDowell steals the show with great one liners and facial expressions that will leave you laughing at times and wanting more. The wood chipper scene is one of my favorites of the year!

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BLACK CHRISTMAS
An all-time classic in the slasher genre, Black Christmas really brings out the creepy as a group of sorority sisters are terrorized in their own house. A demented killer lurks closely to the girls and makes a few phone calls that will make your skin crawl. With the killers voice, cinematography, and great deaths found here, the sad remake had nothing on the original.

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SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT
Whereas “Black Christmas” features calls coming from a killer that’s hiding inside the house already, “Silent Night, Bloody Night” deals with the murderer calling each of the people that they intend to take vengeance on one by one, inviting them to the property. Fearful that their secret may be discovered (a pretty disturbing one at that, which I will not reveal for those who may have not seen it or would like to), they each visit the old dark house that they hate so much and long to destroy forever.

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ELVES
Elves is about an elaborate plot cooked up by the Nazis to breed a superhuman by having a teenage virgin who is the product of incest mate with a weird-looking, killer elf. Which there is only one of; there are no elves in Elves. Just one shitty elf puppet in a Santa hat who can barely open and close its mouth. It’s kind of a bad plan on the Nazis’ part, and takes forever. One of the soldiers has to have a daughter, wait until she’s breeding age, then rape her and get her pregnant, to produce the child of incest. Which, if they’re trying to create superhumans, I’m fairly certain incestuous reproduction is not the secret to stronger, more evolutionarily developed stock.

Not Quite Horror: “A Talking Cat?!?” (2013)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

A Talking Cat?!?

The Monster: David DeCoteau. The director of this film had accomplices when he engaged in making this upsetting film, but he is credited for the direction, the cinematography, and half of the producing duties. DeCoteau came from the Corman school of making films quickly and cheaply, as one viewing of A Talking Cat !?! confirms.

The Horror: Every element of A Talking Cat!?! is somehow unreal and inhuman. The title itself would seem more comfortable on an elementary English assignment than on a film featuring the voice of Eric Roberts. The mansion of male lead Phil (Johnny Whitaker) is decorated by furniture made out of half a car and what appears to be a tree trunk in high heels. A neighbor’s entire future depends on getting her daughter to make cheese puffs correctly. The only thing Phil’s son is more scared of than talking to girls is taking a dip in the pool. All of these elements seem more bizarre than the talking cat itself, even if its mouth moves with worse animation that a flipbook drawn on a stack of papers.

The Shared Fate: DeCoteau’s low-budget attempt at creating family comedy somehow ends up being a project worthy of Andy Warhol. Think about A Talking Cat!?! for too long and cracks appear in every feel-good family flick you find. Aren’t all of the sets in these films trying too hard to set the perfect mood, and aren’t all of the sons afflicted with a powerful fear they must overcome? Isn’t every character trying to perfect their own cheese puffs to save their own lives, even if they call their “cheese puffs” something different?

A Talking Cat!?! A brilliant and terrifying mockery of the absurd nature of family films.

– I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen

Kevin & Steve’s Slasher Movies: “Fatal Games” (1984)

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Kevin: “Fatal Games” has quite possibly the most accurately hilarious description on IMDB that I have ever seen. “A mad javelin thrower kills teenagers in the school. All promising athletes are executed in the most brutal way. Especially naked girls in dressing-rooms or saunas.” In three sentences you immediately know if this is the kind of slasher for you. Luckily enough for me, it was.

Steve: Most of us who love the thrill of 80′s slashers, will also love the agony of defeat these poor olympic hopefuls face. Chalk full of sex crazed guys and nude girls, Fatal Games delivers some fun deaths, a couple chase scenes and even likable characters. The olympic aspect helps set it apart from other films in its genre. A nice change of pace as the young characters find themselves together at the training facility, rather than a cabin.

Kevin: With one of the strangest and actually quite creepy endings of a slasher that I have seen in a while, “Fatal Games” adds a twist that is so implausible that it really must be seen to be believed. Tonally, the film is all over the place. The opening theme song of “Take it to the Limit” feels right out of a “Rocky” sequel, then the film turns to some hi-jinks with the Olympic hopeful “teenagers” who are at least a decade too old to be playing seniors. Starting with the second act, the murders take form and the killer wannabe Olympian is out for revenge. It’s a very, very strange movie. Not exactly good but compulsively watchable.

Steve: Yes, very watchable for a number of reasons. The “national lampoon-like” comedy at the beginning gives us some cheesy laughs, but that does not last long as the film takes an abrupt turn in the tone and feel. The motivation for the killings is a big surprise at the end and definitely pieces a few odd parts together from earlier in the film. With a great score found throughout and classic 80′s cheese from beginning to end, Fatal Games is a fun little film. Just make sure you are ready to have the opening song stuck in your head for days to come.

Slasher Studios Podcast: Upcoming Horror Blu-Rays

Slasher Studios Webcast

On this week’s episode of Slasher Studios Horror Podcast, Kevin Sommerfield and Steve Goltz will be discussing their most anticipated horror blurays of 2014 and the blurays they want to see released in the near future. Show starts at 10PM central. Don’t miss the gory fun.

Click on the link below to listen in live or to check out an archive of a previous show:

Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Blu-Rays

Not Quite Horror: “Reservoir Dogs” (1992)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)

The Monster: Mr. Blonde, aka Vic Vega. Heist organizers Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) and “Nice Guy” Eddie Cabot (Chris Penn) trust Vic Vega (Michael Madsen) without question. He recently endured a prison sentence rather than rat them out. Vega flashes a loveable smirk and wrestles with “Nice Guy” Eddie, but something inside him makes him more malicious than the average bank robber. He behaves violently and erratically during the robbery, and then things get worse.

The Horror: Left alone with a capture cop, time to kill, and seemingly no one around, Mr. Blonde decides its torture time. He produces a straight razor and dances about in front of the cop, then he settles in to saw off the man’s ear. He douses the man with gasoline, but he is shot by a dying Mr. Orange (Tim Roth) before he can start the man on fire.

The Shared Fate: We, the viewers, understand Mr. Blonde is a monster because we see his crimes. When “Nice Guy” Eddie finds Mr. Blonde’s body (and a secret Mr. Orange has been hiding), he cannot believe his friend is cruel and sadistic. There will be no parade for Mr. Orange, unless funerals count.

Monsters have friends, and they hide their monstrosity from them. Unlike vampires, a crucifix and clove of garlic can’t convince people they have befriended a beast in human form. Mr. Orange does the right thing and dies misunderstood. Such things can happen to anyone.

– I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen

Slasher Studios Presents: Top 10 Favorite Slasher Fllms

We’ve been up and running here at Slasher Studios for over two years and in that time I’ve realized we’ve never shared our favorite slashers. Below are our top 10 favorite slashers. These aren’t the best slashers out there, that can be debated until the end of time. Nonetheless, these are our favorites. Feel free to chime in with your favorite slashers. Now in alphabetical order, the bloodbath begins.

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Black Christmas (1974)
“Black Christmas” is that rare horror movie that gets everything right. This is a movie that just oozes atmosphere. Every frame is dripping with dread and setting the film on the Christmas just adds to the excitement of it all. Not only this but the film is also scary as hell with some excellent performances and an ending that is sure to give every horror fan chills. What is the most incredible aspect of this groundbreaking slasher film? Throughout the entire film, we see various sorority girls getting hacked to death and receiving strange telephone calls. What we don’t see is our psycho, Billy. No motive, no reason, no face, no man..Billy could be anyone of us. If that doesn’t make a true psycho, I really don’t know what does.

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The Burning (1981)
This 1981 work of near perfection really does fire on all cylinders and keeps the audience enthralled throughout the duration of the 91 minute runtime. The kills are spectacular, the locations are to die for, the cast has the perfect 80 vibe. The blood and gore within The Burning is top notch as Tom Savini works his magic and gives us some of the most memorable deaths ever to grace the silver screen. The raft scene is produced with out a flaw and everything from the blood, to the shot selection, to the editing pace was well meshed to create something very special. Location, location, location. We have all heard this phrase before and so did the locations scouts for The Burning. We are set in a summer camp near and lake and forest. Very classic 80′s. I have always loved the camp feel for a slasher/horror location and is one doesn’t disappoint.the water adds such a boost the the production value and gives great backdrops for the beautiful cinematography.

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Curtains (1983)
“Curtains” is a whopper of a slasher film that does nearly everything right. Creepy costume? Check. Intriguing backstory? Check. Likable, if slightly over-the-top, characters? Check. Great death scenes? Double check. I know this movie went though hell in post production. Rumor has it that the film was shelved for a year, during which there were re-writes, re-shoots, and one major re-casting done. Eventually numerous crew members had to be re-hired to shoot the footage to complete the film.

This movie should be a mess. The fact that it isn’t is a miracle in and of itself but the fact that the movie is a damn near masterpiece? Well, let’s just say that the slasher gods must have been looking down on this movie because it is simply incredible. Love the twist at the end, love the figure skater who gets killed by the masked man in the old hag mask, and love the final chase. Sure it isn’t entirely believable and there is a bit of logic that must be stretched thin but that doesn’t stop this movie from being one of the best of its kind. Definitely worth checking out for slasher fans everywhere.

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Friday the 13th (1980)
There are some critics that attack these films don’t seem to see the power these films contain. Here, in Friday the 13th, is a young woman who must put all the pieces of the mystery everything together and save her friends in order to survive the night. And survive she does, something that not a single other male does in the course of the film. In fact, looking at the series as a whole, it takes the franchise until Part 4 before it even allows a male to survive in the end. It should come as no surprise that this male is survived with a female who, once again, was forced to save the day on her own. Whereas in other film genres, such as romantic comedies and dramas, where females are pushed aside to “girlfriend support” roles, Friday the 13th tries to do something different with gender roles by making the males the “supportive partner” and forcing the young female teenager to go take charge and same the day. In essence, the female in this film, as in many other horror films, is the hero.

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Halloween (1978)
Halloween is a style-driven movie. It has about enough plot to fill a thimble, but it doesn’t need any more than it has. Director John Carpenter and cinematographer Dean Cundey compensate for this with a very polished, but moody, style. Long, wide tracking shots and eerie blue lighting fill the film. The score is as simple as the script, but simplicity seems to be this film’s strong suit, and the score is no exception. It’s minimal and repetitive, but is amazingly effective. What’s interesting with Halloween is that, for the most part, it is rooted in reality. This is a story of real girls being stalked by a real killer. Only in the film’s final moments does it suggest the possibility of the supernatural. Everything happens as it would in a real-life scenario. The killer does not know his victims, and they do not know him. He happens to fixate on the first girl he sees, the unfortunate Laurie, who inadvertently introduces him to more prey. It’s obvious, though, that Laurie is the one he wants. Despite some extensive toying with Annie, and a fair bit with Lynda, the cat-and-mouse game between Laurie and Michael is apparent from the first act of the film. He fixates on her from the very beginning, and saves his most horrifying tricks for her.

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Happy Birthday to Me (1981)
“Happy Birthday to Me” is preposterous, over-the-top, and silly. A blend of all of the 80′s excesses rolled into one far too long film (outside of the Scream franchise NO horror movie should run upwards of two hours). Nonetheless, “Birthday” works. Maybe it is the silly deaths (gotta love the shish-ka-bob to the mouth or the weights to the crotch) or maybe its the outlandish ending that doesn’t even try to make any sense whatsoever. Whatever it is, this movie put a blood red smile across my face for the majority of its running time. Great atmosphere, steady cinematography, and a capable cast also help matters considerably. I can’t say this is a great movie by any stretch of the imagination but if you are looking for a fine, fun 80′s slasher, this is definitely one of the better ones.

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Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an unbelievably original, terrifingly realistic, and overall terrifying that, despite a weak ending, is one of the best horror flicks of the quarter of a century. The film deals with a deceased child molester who now lives only through the dreams of the children of those who burned him alive. Robert Englund is truly frightening as Freddy Krueger. Wes Craven delivers a surprising amount of tension that still holds up today. The film goes for suspense, drama, and gore and delivers for the most part. Heather Langenkamp gives a very solid performance as Nancy Thompson, the young woman is the “leader” among her friends and the only one who may get out alive. Langenkamp is the real deal and she kicks ass. A great horror film that still delivers today. Look for a young Johnny Depp who, arguably, has the best death scene in the flick.

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Night School (1981)
This is the kind of movie where half of the fun is trying to figure out where the detectives are going to find the missing heads. The twist ending is pretty predictable and the acting is a bit wooden (Rachel Ward, in her film debut, is all sorts of terrible here) but the film is never boring and has been directed with style. Boston looks positively wretched on film here and it gives the slasher a bit of a grungy “Departed” vibe, I mean that in the best way possible. Overall, it’s definitely worth checking out, just keep your head at the door.

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Scream (1996)
Scream made horror movies scary again with a brilliantly constructed plot. One year after the death of Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother, two students turn up gutted. When a serial killer appears, Sidney begins to suspect whether her mother’s death and the two new deaths are related. No one is safe, as the killer begins to pick everyone off one by one. Finally, something the horror genre was missing: a good old fashioned murder mystery. The performances all around are first rate from Neve Campbell as the vulnerable to Courteney Cox as the bitchy journalist willing to do whatever it takes to get a story Gale Weathers to David Arquette as the sweet, slightly dimwitted Deputy Dewey to Drew Barrymore’s doomed Casey Becker.

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Terror Train (1980)
This is a personal favorite slasher film of mine, and one of the best college slasher films. There are many things I love about this film. One, Jamie Lee Curtis who started her career in the horror genre and this genre is some of her best work in my opinion. I don’t think anyone will forget her in John Carpenter’s Halloween either. Second, I love the creepy atmosphere and the killer. What I think makes this killer so creepy is that he or she always dresses in many costumes through out the film and some of those costumes are pretty creepy. I love that the killer uses their eyes to show some type of personalty which is very creepy. Also, I love that you try to guess who the killer might be and when you find out who the killer is at the end it is pretty shocking the first time you see the movie. Third, I love that they put these college students on a train and when in danger it’s hard to runaway from the killer. The kills aren’t too special in this film,but their many other things that make up for this film that I mentioned. If you haven’t seen this 80′s gem then I highly recommend it especially since it is getting a new DVD/Blu-ray release coming soon from Shout Factory. Perfect film to watch around the Halloween season. So get some popcorn with a good drink, and watch this fun slasher film.

Big thank you to Joshua Dean and Justin Rhine whose original reviews of Halloween and Terror Train were used in the write ups included here. Thanks guys!

Kevin & Steve’s Horror Movies: “The Taint” (2010)

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Kevin: In “The Taint,” much like “Cabin Fever,” the water is tainted. The tainted water is turning the men of this small town into raging misogynistic monsters who want to kill and rape woman. Can our underdog of a hero, Phil, save the town and the woman of it before it is too late for everyone?

Steve: This is definitely a see it to believe it film. We can go on for days talking about the male nudity, gallons of gore, and overall “offensiveness” of the film, but if you haven’t witnessed it yourself, you just wouldn’t understand. Director, Drew Bolduc, takes on some very sensitive issues and will offend many people (abortion and the American Flag to name just two) so if you are a highly sensitive person, you may want to steer clear. But, if you are a fan of creative cinema, this one is worth a look!

Kevin: “The Taint” is a surreal mix of some of the wildest gore you’ve ever seen complete with lots and lots of ejaculating penises and some of the niftiest gore I’ve seen all year. To say this movie isn’t for the easily offended is putting it mildly. “The Taint” puts even the most gross out Troma films of the 80′s to shame. Whether or not that is a recommendation is completely up to the viewer but I was shocked how much of a good time I had with this movie. Despite a second act that is a bit too repetitive for its own good, the film is rarely boring and when it works….it really works. I was giggling like a child at the over-the-top bodily fluids and the copious amounts of gore and nudity.

Steve: The editing was fun and fast paced at times and the overall production value was boosted by the solid camera work and effects. The acting held its own as Bolduc took on two roles and was the standout star of the film. He will be a favorite amongst movie goers with his funny monotone lines and persona. This was a great addition to the Troma family and Slasher Studios is looking forward to what Bolduc cooks up next.

Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Q&A

Slasher Studios Webcast

On this week’s episode of Slasher Studios Horror Podcast, Kevin Sommerfield and Steve Goltz will be answering your horror related questions. Show starts tonight at 10PM central. Don’t miss the gory fun. Click on the link below to listen in live or to check out an archive after the show as aired.

To listen: Slasher Studios Podcast: Horror Q&A

Not Quite Horror: “Best in Show” (2000)

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Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

“Best in Show” (2000)

The Monsters: Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock). The perfectionist yuppies cannot accept their dog Beatrice for what she is. The movie begins with them fussing over her to a dog therapist. When Beatrice is in the Westminster Dog Show, they nearly murder each other to provide Beatrice with her Busy Bee, her favorite toy. When Beatrice is disqualified for bad behavior, the Swans abandon her to start over with a different dog.

The Horror: Beatrice, though adorable, cannot be more than a dog. She cannot save the marriage of her owners, and she cannot contain her canine playfulness during her judging. She cannot stand up to her owners and, when they realize her limitations, they abandon her.

The Shared Fate: American culture emphasizing individuality, but how easy is it to identify with poor Beatrice? We may pretend to be in charge of our lives, but we often find our very existence determined by underqualified perfectionists who project their own anxieties onto us. We are asked to do thing we are incapable of by coworkers, loved ones, and even strangers. And, like the Swans, these people somehow convince themselves they are stressing us out for our own benefit.

– I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen

Indie Horror Review: “Profile of a Killer” Cuts On More than One Level

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Out on DVD just this past summer, Profile Of A Killer has hit the scene with a warm welcome. As a huge fan of Indy cinema, I can proudly say that I have become the latest to embrace this thriller flick. The film hits on all cylinders and does a great job of jumping right into the story, grabbing your attention and never letting go. The cinematography, the acting, the writing and the direction all come together to make a cohesive project.

Taking place during a Minnesota winter, skeletons start showing up around Highway 61. The killer, who is soon given the “H-61 Killer” nickname, kidnaps a profiler, Saul, and brings him back to his hideout. Demanding that the Saul performs one last profile, the H-61 Killer continues his madness and the body count rises. Can Saul help save the tone or will the murders continue?

From start to end, the look of this film is outstanding. The camera work and use of lighting really gave a huge boost to the production value. The effects work on the skeletons are also worth noting. Very realistic and creepy. Also realistic, are the performances by the very talented actors. Young and old, these stars shine with every line delivery and add credibility to the film.

The story itself was well told and intriguing. As a huge straight up slasher fan, I was surprisingly taken in by this mystery-thriller. It was out of my norm, but I really did enjoy it. It was not boring, nor did it feature that amateur look that is far too abundant today. I see this film doing great things and you should see it too. The DVD is available on Amazon for purchase and rental here: Profile of a Killer (DVD)

Deck the Halls with Winter Slashers

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Another Halloween has come and gone and we are getting ready to jump into the wonderful world of winter slashers here at Slasher Studios. Which brings us to the question, why aren’t there more winter slashers? With the exception of the delightfully cheesy “Shredder” and a few other 80′s slashers like “Iced,” how many winter slashers can you name. Even something like the awful but entertaining “Black Christmas” remake has a wealth of atmosphere. Something about seeing Christmas lights and blood on the snow that makes the gore fan in all of us light up with cheer. Movies like “Silent Night Deadly Night” and “Don’t Open til Christmas” are entertaining for their sleaziness but this slasher fans has never found either particular film to be very fun. The question I have for you slasher fans is what would you like to see in a winter slasher and why do you think winter slashers aren’t more popular? Let’s have a slay ride this Christmas and see the blood bath begin..

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